Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Breathalyzer Device Tells When You're Burning Fat

Paired with smartphone, prototype device helps gauge weight-loss success, developers say

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- A new, portable breathalyzer that pairs with a smartphone and Bluetooth can measure how well you're burning body fat and help you gauge the success of your diet and exercise program, according to a new report from Japan.

At this point, the device is only a prototype. It's pocket-sized, about 4 inches long, and weighs about 4.5 ounces. It operates on two AA batteries.

The device measures acetone, a metabolite produced from fat burning. When you burn fat, acetone levels rise in the blood, but are also exhaled. The new device is as reliable as a "gold standard" test (such as gas chromatography) to measure acetone, according to Satoshi Hiyama, senior research engineer at NTT Docomo, a Japanese mobile communications company.

"We found that the concentrations of breath acetone obtained from our prototype and from conventional gas chromatography have a strong correlation throughout our experiments," Hiyama said.

The researchers tested the device in 17 healthy men and women, reporting their findings online July 25 in the Journal of Breath Research.

"Enabling users to monitor the state of fat burning could play a pivotal role in daily diet management," Hiyama said in a journal news release.

To operate the device, the user blows into it and the acetone concentration levels are calculated and sent via Bluetooth or cable to an Android-based smartphone. It takes about 10 seconds.

For the study, after people blew into the breathalyzer, they also blew into a special collection bag that was measured with the conventional chromatography method.

Hiyama and his team had assigned the participants to one of three groups for the 14-day study. All were overweight by Japanese standards. (Body mass index thresholds in Asian populations are similar but not identical to U.S. standards, for example.)

One group carried on with their normal routine, with no instructions to exercise or restrict calories.

A second group was required to take part in jogging or fast walking from one half-hour to an hour a day. The third group did the same exercise routine but also was instructed to restrict calories.

Each day before breakfast, the men and women used a bath scale to weigh themselves and measure body fat, then used the breathalyzer.

Those in the first two groups did not lose substantial amounts of weight -- their breath acetone levels were constant. The researchers suggested that the exercise-only group members, allowed to set their own pace, weren't working hard enough.

Those in the third group who followed instructions lost substantial amounts of fat and their breath acetone levels rose.

The researchers speculate that the device might also be used in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. When diabetes is out of control, acetone breath levels rise.

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
Teen girl jogging
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article